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Water Intrusion Policy

Any situation where as the result of a leak, flood, construction activity, or other event building materials or furniture become wet to the extent that  remediation or removal is necessary.


  • To prevent water damage from causing fungal amplification affecting the safety and comfort of area occupants.
  • To minimize property damage, remediation cost, and enable prompt resumption of routine operations in affected areas.
  • To describe a unified set of procedures for addressing water intrusions.


  • The overall approach for dealing with wet building material shall be: “DRY IT OUT OR THROW IT OUT…QUICKLY”.
  • Upon notification or discovery, Facilities will determine the source of the water and if the leak has been stopped.  (The first priority is stopping the water flow, if possible.)
  • Remove and replace any wet ceiling tiles.
  • Inspect areas above ceilings for water-damaged filters, sheet rock, insulation, etc.
  • Instruct occupants to inspect books, journals, and other papers and then either discard unsalvageable or unneeded materials, or thoroughly dry items that they wish to keep.
  • Upholstered materials (chairs, couches) that can not be cleaned and dried should be discarded.
  • Carpets should be wet-vacuumed, cleaned and thoroughly dried, using fans whenever feasible; HVAC should be adjusted to maximize fresh air flow whenever possible.  If necessary, cabinets, desks, etc. must be moved so that carpeting beneath them may also be wet-vacuumed, cleaned and thoroughly dried.  As wet or damp carpets are the most problematic sources of fungal amplification, it is vital that these activities be undertaken as soon as possible.
  • Water-damaged areas of walls shall be cut out and replaced, if necessary.  Otherwise, walls shall be cleaned, dried, and repainted. 

The procedures described above should eliminate fungal amplification.  However, there will continue to be situations where mold may be ‘discovered’ even in the absence of recalled water intrusion. These discoveries are usually confined to a few specific types of surfaces or areas.

  • Bathrooms, in grout between tiles.  Use routine cleaning procedures and stiff-bristled brush if needed.
  • Ceiling tiles. Replace any tiles showing mold growth or water staining.  Before replacing tiles, inspect space above the ceiling for on-going leaks.
  • Walls. Provided that no more than 10 square feet are effected, clean with any surface-compatible cleaner. Consider that mold on walls may be the result of water reaching the surface from a source inside the wall; investigate this possibility by inspecting surrounding areas for leaks.
  • Cold rooms. Change air filters in room units.  Investigators will be instructed to remove any cellulosic materials (cardboard, paper) and to routinely clean environmental surfaces.
  • If mold growth is extensive, contact EH&S .

Responsibility:  EH&S , Columbia University Facilities 

Initiated 2/2008